Cittavagga – A Well Restrained Mind


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For a complete understanding of this sutta in the context intended by an awakened human being please read the linked suttas at the end of this article.. ([x])

The Dhammapada is a twenty-six chapter volume in the fifth book of the Sutta Pitaka known as the Khuddaka Nikaya. The Khuddaka Nikaya is a fifteen-book collection of short texts difficult to classify within the other volumes. The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse that can be read as a concise though thorough presentation of an awakened human being’s teachings.

The Dhammapada is loosely formatted by topic The individual topic(s) presented in each chapter mostly stand on their own with the understanding that everything the Buddha taught can only be understood and developed skillfully within the context of Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. [1,2]

The Cittavagga teaches the suffering that follows from a mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths and the peaceful mind developed through the Eightfold Path. [3]

It is through wise restraint that an ever-grasping, continually distracted ego-personality is subdued and the wise Dhamma practitioner gains the ability to “thinks what they want whenever they want and does not think what is unskillful. This practitioner has severed craving and has brought an end to suffering and stress.” [4,5]

Through Right Meditation, the wise Dhamma practitioner develops Refined Mindfulness resting on ever-deepening Jhana. [6]

My comments below are in italics.


Cittavagga – A Well-Restrained Mind

Dhammapada 3

The mind, fickle, unsteady, difficult to restrain. Even so, the wise Dhamma practitioner straightens the mind like a skilled fletcher straightens an arrow.

A mind ruled by Mara is agitated, like a fish out of water, gasping and flopping here and there.

Metaphor is often used by the Buddha to describe troubled and distracted mind states. Throughout the Pali Canon, the malevolent god Mara is a metaphor for a troubled mind rooted in ignorance of Four Noble Truths. [7]

The mind is difficult to restrain, ever-changing, always clinging to objects of desire. The highest knowledge is restraint. A restrained mind dwells in peace. [4]

A grasping mind is subtle, hard to recognize. The wise restrain the mind. A well-restrained mind brings lasting happiness.

Dwelling in distraction, the mind, disjoined from the body, wanders aimlessly.  When subdued, this mind is freed from the bonds of Mara.

Wisdom is never developed in a mind that is ignorant of the Heartwood, listless, not established in Jhana. [3,6]

Where there is desire there is fear. There is no fear of in awakened one free of greed and aversion, free of gaining and losing. [8]

The wise understand the impermanence of form while fortifying the mind to abandon Mara. Established in Right View, Mara conquered, now free of worldly entanglements.

In no time this body is dust, mindless, lifeless, a useless stump.

An unrestrained mind brings greater harm than any enemy or hater.

No one and no thing brings greater benefit than a mind well-restrained.

It is through the Heartwood of the Dhamma, the Eightfold Path, that the wise Dhamma Practitioner develops the concentration necessary to support the Refined Mindfulness to finally gain control of the Mind.

End Of Chapter


  1. Dependent Origination – The Paticca Samuppada Sutta
  2. Four Noble Truths – The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
  3. Eightfold Path – The Magga-Vibhanga Sutta
  4. Wisdom Of Restraint
  5. Vitakkasanthana Sutta
  6. Right Meditation – Samadhi – Jhanas
  7. Mara And Metaphor
  8. Becoming Explained
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My Dhamma articles and talks are based on the Buddha's teachings  (suttas) as preserved in the Sutta Pitaka, the second book of the Pali Canon. I have relied primarily on Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s excellent and insightful translation of the Pali generously made freely available at his website, as well as the works of Acharya Buddharakkhita, Nyanaponika Thera, John Ireland, Maurice Walsh, Hellmuth Hecker, and Sister Khema, among others, as preserved at Access To Insight.

Also, I have found Bhikkhu Bodhi's translations from Wisdom Publications Pali Canon Anthologies to be most informative and an excellent resource.

I have made edits to the suttas from these sources for further clarity, to modernize language, to minimize repetition, and maintain contextual relevance to Dependent Origination and Four Noble Truths. and Dhamma articles and recordings by John Haspel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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